Isolation, identification, immunolocalisation and elucidation of the role of plasma kallikrein in human tissues.
Cerf, Marlon Eugene.
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Introduction: Plasma kallikrein (PK) is a cofactor in blood coagulation and modulates inflammation through the release of bradykinin (BK). Previously it was believed that plasma prekallikrein (PPK), the precursor of PK and a member of the serine protease superfamily, was synthesised exclusively by hepatocytes and secreted into circulation. However, recent studies show that various human tissues contain PPK mRNA. In this study we sought to determine in which human tissues PK is expressed. Methods: Following approval by the Ethics Committee at the University of Natal, tissue samples from the spinal cord, 13 different regions of the brain, 7 different blood vessels and various other organs were collected at autopsy within 24h of death (n =10). Sections were probed using polyclonal antibodies specific for PK. PK concentrations in extracts of these tissues were measured by competitive EllSA. Results: A Western blot analysis demonstrated the monospecificity of the antibody for the PK protein. The presence of immunoreactive PK in cells of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans served as a positive control for each immunolabeling experiment. The hepatocytes, renal distal convoluted tubules and epithelial cells lining the bronchiole and pulmonary alveoli labeled positively for PK. In the gastrointestinal tract tissue, immunoreactive PK was visualised in the acinar cells of the salivary gland, in stromal and glandular duct cells of the oesophagus, and in some chief and glandular cells in the stomach. Some of the above-mentioned tissues contained a few inflammatory cells which stained intensely for PK. Immunoreactive PK was visualised in the endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells of the all the blood vessels examined, except the renal vein. Increased immunolabeling for PK in the endothelial cells, foam cells and macrophages was observed in arteries with atheromatous plaques. In neural tissue immunoreactive PK was observed in neurons, ependymal cells, fibre tracts, and in secretory cells of the anterior pituitary gland. Immunolabeling for PK was visualised in some neurons of the spinal cord and in different brain regions viz. hypothalamus, cerebral cortex, thalamus, brain stem and hippocampus. In sections of the hypothalamus and spinal cord, we observed immunolabeling for PK in ependymal cells lining the third ventricle and central canal respectively. Positive labeling for PK was evident in fibre tracts of the pons, medulla and hippocampus. No immunoreactive PK was visualised in the choroid plexus or cerebellum. High amounts of PK were measured by competitive ELlSA in extracts of the pancreas (12.94 ± 2.04 /-lg/ml), the pons (1.67 ± 1.46 /-lg/ml) and aorta (0.44 ± 0.14 /-lg/ml). The basilar artery (0.09 ± 0.07 /-lg/ml) and spinal cord (0.09 ± 0.04 /-lg/ml) had the least PK concentrations. Discussion and Conclusions: We have shown that the PPK mRNA demonstrated in various human tissues is most likely translated into protein by the immunolocalisation of PK within specific cells in the different tissues examined. The actions of PK within these tissues may be two fold, firstly by its kininogenase activity it may release BK from high molecular weight kininogen, or alternatively, PK may act as a proteolytic enzyme on other proteins. With respect to the latter) PK may be involved in the processing of protein precursors, for example precursors of the digestive enzymes found in saliva and in gastric secretion, insulin precursors in the pancreas, and hormonal precursors in the pituitary gland. The localisation of PK and B1 and B2 kinin receptors in the kidney, lung, stomach, blood vessels and brain suggests that the effects of PK in these tissues are mediated by BK-receptor interaction. These may include the regulation of glucose uptake in the pancreas, water and ion transport in the kidney, and local and systemic blood pressure in the cardiovascular system. The presence of immunoreactive PK in neurons suggests that BK-receptor mediated interaction may regulate neurophysiological processes such as synaptic transmission. Immunolabeling for PK in polymorphonuclear leukocytes observed in some of these tissue sections suggests the potential to mediate the inflammatory process.